September 2013

September 30 – Happy Birthday Johnny Allen

Born in Lenoir, NC in 1904, this hot-tempered right-hander had a knack for long winning streaks until he injured his arm in 1938 and never fully recovered. As a young man, Allen worked as a bellhop. When a guest in his hotel complained he couldn’t get any heat in is room,  Allen was sent to check out the complaint. The occupant of the room turned out to be the great Yankee scout Paul Krichell. Allen told the cold talent evaluator he was a pitcher and after he got the heating problem solved, a grateful Krichell arranged a Yankee tryout for him.

He pitched some excellent baseball for New York in the early thirties. As a 27 year old rookie, he went 17-4 for the 1932 Yankees. After winning 50 games during his four seasons in Pinstripes and fighting with the Yankee front-office about money, Allen was traded to Cleveland, where he promptly won 20 games in 1936 and went 15-1 the year after. At one point over three seasons, Johnny won 27 of 29 decisions with the Indians. It was a good thing too, because he was a sore loser, known to go after both umpires and teammates when he came up on the short end of a close or disputed decision.

After Allen hurt his arm, he was traded to the Browns and then spent some time with Brooklyn, winning 8 of 9 decisions as a Dodger. He ended his career with the Giants in 1944. This made him one of a very few pitchers who pitched for the Big Apple’s three original Major League franchises. He compiled a 142-75 record, lifetime. He was just 54 years of age when he suffered a heart attack and died.

Allen shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1932 NYY 17 4 .810 3.70 33 21 6 13 3 4 192.0 162 86 79 10 76 109 1.240
1933 NYY 15 7 .682 4.39 25 24 1 10 1 1 184.2 171 96 90 9 87 119 1.397
1934 NYY 5 2 .714 2.89 13 10 2 4 0 0 71.2 62 30 23 3 32 54 1.312
1935 NYY 13 6 .684 3.61 23 23 0 12 2 0 167.0 149 76 67 11 58 113 1.240
13 Yrs 142 75 .654 3.75 352 241 68 109 17 18 1950.1 1849 924 813 103 738 1070 1.326
CLE (5 yrs) 67 34 .663 3.65 150 121 25 60 9 6 929.2 905 427 377 36 342 505 1.341
NYY (4 yrs) 50 19 .725 3.79 94 78 9 39 6 5 615.1 544 288 259 33 253 395 1.295
BRO (3 yrs) 18 7 .720 3.21 55 20 15 6 1 4 213.1 186 92 76 20 76 86 1.228
NYG (2 yrs) 5 10 .333 3.74 33 13 13 2 1 2 125.0 125 64 52 10 38 57 1.304
SLB (1 yr) 2 5 .286 6.58 20 9 6 2 0 1 67.0 89 53 49 4 29 27 1.761
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/30/2013.

September 29 – Happy Birthday Dave Silvestri

sylvestriIt was so nice having the Yankees double A farm team a half hour’s drive away from my back door twenty years ago. We’d put our four kids in the minivan and take them to Heritage Park, which was what they called the home field of the Eastern League’s Albany- Colonie Yankees back then and for less than twenty bucks, my family of six would spend an evening watching players we hoped would some day be on the roster of the big league Yankees. And many were, including the core four of Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Posada, the Williams boys, Bernie and Gerald, Roberto Kelly, Jim Leyritz, Andy Stankiewicz, Pat Kelly, Sterling Hitchcock and a host of others who eventually got to play in the Bronx.

One of the Albany-Colonie players who I thought might be a future Yankee star was today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Back in 1991, Dave Silvestri was the A-C Yankees starting shortstop and leading home run hitter. He belted 19 round-trippers that year and drove in 83 runs. I was hopeful that Silvestri would turn into a pinstriped version of Cal Ripken, a starting shortstop with lots of pop in his bat. He wasn’t perfect. His defense needed work and he struck out a lot but those were common maladies in younger players. He was certainly the organization’s top prospect at short and he continued to pound the ball at the triple A level.  The parent club was terrible back then and had no good shortstops on the roster. Remember Alvaro Espinosa?

But instead of getting a decent shot to play at the top level, the Yanks treated Silvestri like a yo-yo, sending him up and down repeatedly between their big league and Columbus rosters. He played seven games for New York in 1992, seven more in ’93, a dozen in ’94 and his Yankee career high of seventeen in 1995. Meanwhile, Jeter passed him on the organization’s depth chart for shortstops and the Yankees used up all their options on the guy. For a while, it looked as if he would be groomed to play third base, but in the end, the Yankees traded the then 27-year-old native of St. Louis to the Expos for a minor leaguer named Tyrone Horne. Silvestri told a New York Times reporter he couldn’t wait to leave the Yankees so he could play for an organization that would  finally give him a shot at a regular big league job.

The Expos gave Silvestri that shot in 1996, when he appeared in a career-high 86 games for Montreal. But he hit just .204 during that season and he was released at the end of that year. He continued playing, mostly in the minors for three more years.

Silvestri shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder, this former starting pitcher and this 1967 Cy Young Award winner.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1992 NYY 7 13 13 3 4 0 2 0 1 0 0 3 .308 .308 .615 .923
1993 NYY 7 26 21 4 6 1 0 1 4 0 5 3 .286 .423 .476 .899
1994 NYY 12 23 18 3 2 0 1 1 2 0 4 9 .111 .261 .389 .650
1995 NYY 17 27 21 4 2 0 0 1 4 0 4 9 .095 .259 .238 .497
8 Yrs 181 401 336 42 68 12 3 6 36 4 56 96 .202 .315 .310 .624
NYY (4 yrs) 43 89 73 14 14 1 3 3 11 0 13 24 .192 .315 .411 .726
MON (2 yrs) 125 283 234 28 52 10 0 3 24 4 43 68 .222 .341 .303 .644
TBD (1 yr) 8 14 14 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .071 .071 .071 .143
TEX (1 yr) 2 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
ANA (1 yr) 3 11 11 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 .091 .091 .182 .273
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/29/2013.

September 28 – Happy Birthday Pete Filson

filsonYankee fans heard a lot about Pete Filson in the early eighties. He was a left-handed starting pitcher who had been selected by New York in the ninth round of the 1979 amateur draft. The Yankees assigned him to their Class C Appalachian League team in Paintsville, Kentucky and in 13 starts during the 1979 season he went 9-0 with three shutouts and a 1.68 ERA. The native of Darby, Pennsylvania then proved that first year was no fluke when he followed it up with a 13-9 record in A ball in 1980 and a stellar 17-3 mark the following season.

The question wasn’t would Filson become a winner for New York at the big league level, it was just a matter of when he’d get the chance. But this was the early eighties and the ego-maniacal George Steinbrenner was pretty much dictating the personnel moves made by the Yankee organization. The Boss didn’t get along with Rick Cerone, New York’s staring catcher at the time so he directed the front office to replace him. The Twins’ first string receiver was available but he wouldn’t come cheap. The Yanks had to give Minnesota Filson in the deal.

Filson made his big league debut with the Twins during the 1982 season and spent the next three years pitching out of the Minnesota bullpen. In 1986, he was traded to the White Sox and a year later, he returned to the Bronx as part of the same deal that brought Randy Velarde to the Yankees.

Filson finally got to make his Yankee debut on August 29, 1987 in a relief appearance against the Mariners. He got rocked. He also got lit up in his second appearance against Boston a week later but then settled down and pitched well in his next three. That streak got him his first ever start in pinstripes and he made it a good one, pitching seven scoreless innings against Baltimore and earning his first and only Yankee victory. He pitched well in his next start as well but did not factor in the decision.

Filson turned 29-years-old that year and the Yanks decided to release him at the end of their 1988 spring training camp. He got one more shot at the big leagues in 1990. Filson ended up having a brilliant minor league career, putting together a 95-34 record during his decade pitching on farm teams with a 2.98 ERA. I think the Yanks screwed up his career when they traded him for Wynegar and he ended up stuck in the Twins’ bullpen during his prime. Southpaws did well in the old Yankee Stadium and God knows the Yanks could have used another good lefty starter during those seasons in the early 1980’s.

He shares his September 29th birthday with this former Yankee center fielder,  this former Yankee relief pitcher and this long-ago New York first baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1987 NYY 1 0 1.000 3.27 7 2 3 0 0 0 22.0 26 10 8 2 9 10 1.591
7 Yrs 15 18 .455 4.18 148 34 43 1 0 4 391.2 398 198 182 51 150 187 1.399
MIN (5 yrs) 14 13 .519 3.98 130 24 38 1 0 4 323.0 316 148 143 39 123 164 1.359
KCR (1 yr) 0 4 .000 5.91 8 7 0 0 0 0 35.0 42 31 23 6 13 9 1.571
NYY (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 3.27 7 2 3 0 0 0 22.0 26 10 8 2 9 10 1.591
CHW (1 yr) 0 1 .000 6.17 3 1 2 0 0 0 11.2 14 9 8 4 5 4 1.629
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2013.